Where is it reasonable to draw the line between expectation of service and preserving personal freedoms?
This is a question that doesn’t seem to have any easy answers. Since Gay Marriages became recognized by the Federal Government, small business owners within the industry and with moral objections, have found themselves in an uncomfortable predicament.
We all know that the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibits discrimination by businesses on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin.
But the one arrow the “Whites Only” establishments of the 1960’s didn’t have in their quiver was that of religion. In 2014 the Supreme Court ruled that the Hobby Lobby Corporation was entitled to religious freedom and as such could not be forced to offer contraceptives as part of their employees’ healthcare package. Specifically the court was upholding the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 which requires the government to accommodate such corporations. That is the same Act which shielded a Michigan Funeral Home from lawsuit when they fired a transgender employee in 2013.
In sharp contrast to those rulings are the recent rash of discrimination suits won against bakers and florists the country over for refusing to provide services for gay weddings. The government seemed to go the other way in regards to private property rights for establishments that serve the public. Not even the federal “Law Enforcement Safety Act” (which permits retired law enforcement officers to carry a concealed firearm at all times), can supersede a shopkeeper’s right to ban firearms from their establishment.
Dizzy yet? It seems when it comes to the rights of business owners the government has no clue where to draw the line; leaving business owners unsure and fearful of restrictions not yet established.
But before we all jump to judge I’d like to point out that the argument isn’t as cut and dry as it may seem on its surface.
Gay Rights Advocates argue that when you’re in the business of serving the public, picking and choosing your customers on anything other than their ability to pay is discriminatory and reminiscent of a time before the civil rights movement.
Religious Freedom Advocates are arguing that religious beliefs are at the core of a person’s being, and they should not be forced to abandon those beliefs when no harm is being caused and there are so many other businesses these customers can go to.
Moving forward I think this is going to be a tough decision for most Americans. Discounting as always the “I’m right, You’re Wrong, Shut Up crowd”.
I can tell you that starting and surviving a small business is no easy task. But if you work diligently and sacrifice enough you can create a new product or service and with it countless jobs and opportunities for others. To say nothing of producing a myriad of tax dollars for the government to spend as they see fit.
If we are to create a true freedom-loving environment, letting communities decide for themselves if they want to keep patronizing such an establishment seems like the obvious solution. But I also think that personal beliefs are meant for personal time, and if you chose to serve the public, you become responsible to do just that. Like I said, tough decisions lie ahead. And whatever decisions are made will further define what it means to be an American.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!
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